Operazione Colomba – monthly report of activities in Albania – October 2019

Present situation
The political situation in Albania is still uncertain. The new local elections, expected to take place on October 13th have never occurred. A new mayor has not yet been elected in the municipality of Shkodër, after the withdrawal of the last elected one because of a scandal over his conviction for drug trafficking in Italy. Meanwhile, the municipality is still run by the outgoing mayor.
Furthermore, the European Union has postponed the opening of access negotiations for Albania and Northern Macedonia: despite the European Commission accordance in its accession, France strongly opposed opening. Conte, the Prime Minister of Italy, defined this decision as “A historical mistake“. The European Parliament has also expressed its disappointment due to the lack of agreement through a resolution.
In regard to the crime news, at the beginning of October, a murder occured in the northern region of Mirdita: a 34-year-old man was probably killed because of a blood feud. In fact, on February 24th, his brother had killed a 45-year-old man in a gunfight in Durrës. Because of what his brother committed, it seems that the victim lived in a self-isolation condition because he feared for his life. From media, we learnt that the alleged culprit for this murder was a victim’s childhood friend and his family members now live, in turn, self-isolated.
This month an important mention was given, through an award ceremony, to Dritan Prroj, Protestant minister of the Fjala e Krishtit (Word of Christ) church, killed in 2010 for blood feuds reasons. His death led to the foundation of the Association “Jo gjakmarrjes, Po Jetes” (No to blood feud, Yes to Life) which deals with combating the phenomenon, with particular attention to minors’ education and women support.

During the month of October, the realization of the activities was guaranteed by the collaboration with two young volunteers who are working for the civil service within the Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII projects in Albania. Thanks to their willingness, a lady was accompanied in prison to visit her husband who is detained for blood feud’s reasons.
In October, the editing of a toolkit was finalized with the aim to convey to local institutions the best practice that Operazione Colomba experienced in Albania, dealing with nonviolent activities to combat the blood feuds phenomenon for ten years. The dissemination of the brief manual pursues the objective to urge the institutions’ intervention in blood feuds cases and to improve the competence of local authorities so that they can eradicate the phenomenon. The toolkit will be implemented with the support of Trentino con i Balcani Association, which will also organize its dissemination through some workshops.
Furthermore, we are pleased to announce the awarding of Nadia Cadrobbi, a long-term volunteer in Albania, who on October 25th, in Sansepolcro received the “Angiolino Acquisti” Scholarship for her Master Thesis entitled “Riconciliazione e perdono come principi della giustizia riparativa e della risoluzione dei conflitti. Le esperienze in Kossovo e Albania con Operazione Colomba” (Reconciliation and forgiveness as principles of restorative justice and conflict resolution. Experiences in Kosovo and Albania with Operazione Colomba). Her role of mediator and the support she offered to reconciliation paths among families in blood feud clearly emerge from her Thesis.

Relationship with institutions and civil society
On Friday 11th October, the Comunità Papa Giovanni XXIII Association (APG23), to whom Operazione Colomba belongs, celebrated its 20th anniversary in Albania. The celebration included a meeting at the Italian Embassy in Tirana and the screening of the movie “Solo cose belle” (Only good things) which illustrates the lifestyle of the Association.
Furthermore, an interesting initiative was coordinated by Save the Children on October 25th in Tirana. The event involved many associations and NGOs who deal with different social fields, offering networking and meeting opportunity. In this regard, a report was published summarizing the activities carried out by these associations, including Operazione Colomba as part of APG23, inside the program supported by Save the Children from April 2018 to March 2019.
Finally, we were contacted by a Professor from York University, interested in carrying out a fact finding mission in Albania, in collaboration with Shpresa, an association in London that deals with unaccompanied Albanian minors and applicants for international protection in United Kingdom. The journey aims to plan some academic researches, about the blood feuds phenomenon too, with particular attention to the eradication of this practice and the protection of those affected by this social plague.